“I’m not ready for a relationship. Can we just be friends?”
Usually, first dates go pretty well. Whether it’s a doghike or a play or an event of some sort, we choose activities that are fun and worthwhile for both of us whether we wind up connecting, or no.
If we connect, second date. If we don’t, that’s it.
But sometimes, often, between the first and second date, or second and third, I enter the Twilight Zone: the realm of “hard-to-get,” a land where texts are replied to an hour or two or 12 or 32 later, if at all.
And it’s hard: it’s hard to let go, and move on, when we’ve invested time and care in connecting with another. But it’s necessary. There are few excuses for not getting back to someone—whether on Facebook, text, voicemail (if you’re old school). Genuine excuses include: I don’t use Facebook, I was in a meeting/didn’t have my phone/phone was off. A good excuse rings true.
But overlook an excuse and give a second chance, a third chance, and we’re getting a different kind of message: I’m not that interested in you.
And the way to respond to that message, generally (after, perhaps, trying to charm/cajole one’s way out of said sinkhole, and generally failing)—is to respond in kind.
Repeat after me:
I don’t want to date boys or girls. I date men or women.
And being “just friends” isn’t an option, generally, either, if one of the two parties likes the other romantically. That just isn’t an honest basis for healthy friendship. We just can’t be a good, true friend to a man or woman we’d like to date, if s/he doesn’t want to date us. Such friendship puts us in the position of not being true to what we want, and him or her knowing it. It puts him or her in the position of disrespecting us. I would prefer not to knowingly put myself, or her, in that position.
And so it’s best to let go. Move on. Go on a hike or drinks with friends. Go climbing or cycling or whatever it is we enjoy. And once we move on, we remember why we like ourselves and our lives. We become, slowly, adults who are comfortable with loneliness, and comfortable with honesty.
And that’s attractive.